Is This Thing On?

Jon Maki, President and Publisher

I have a problem.

Well, really, I have a lot of problems. Physical, mental; really, just a huge pile of problems both large and small. For the purposes of this post, though, there’s one problem in particular that I’m grappling with though in fairness, the problem is made up of several smaller problems, and it’s connected to many of the other problems I have.

It’s basically a rat king of problems, which is an extremely gross metaphor, but bear with me.

In the simplest terms, my problem is a question: What should I do?

This is, of course, a question that all of us face at various times and in various circumstances in our lives, and really, it’s the central question of existence.

But I’m not thinking – at least not entirely – in broad, philosophical or existential terms. It’s a specific question related to a specific set of issues.

Issue the First: At the moment, and for the last several moments – since the end of March – I don’t have a job. I’m doing okay financially, even though I currently have no income, as I was prepared for this, and it will be quite some time before my lack of employment becomes a pressing concern. I would, however, like to avoid getting to that point, so after taking most of the spring and summer off – during which I had hoped to accomplish rather more than I did, or even anything at all – I have begun seeking out employment.

Issue the Second: But I don’t want to. I have pretty much zero interest in returning to anything even remotely like my former corporate life. Not (just) because I’m lazy, but because it just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s not how I want to live. Which means that I need to find an alternative revenue stream.

That is, in part, the point of OpenDoor Comics, but to date…well.

I believe that it can be that alternative revenue stream, but that brings us to…

Issue the Third: This site, and the platform that it’s meant to be for comics creators of all kinds is so far…well, not that platform part. But I believe that it can be, with a more committed investment of time and money, devoted to improving the underlying technology, and to spreading the word about its existence. I have the time, and I kind of have the money, but…

Issue the Fourth: The money I do have, while I remain unemployed, is being used for mundane things like keeping a roof over my head, and keeping me fed. And that’s the heart of the conundrum. I’ve got time, and I’ve got money, but the more money I put into it, the less time I’ll have before things get desperate and I absolutely have to get a job, which will bring in money, but take away my time.

However, this post isn’t just about the problem; I want to talk a little about the solution I’ve settled on.

What should I do? This.

I believe in OpenDoor Comics, the vision I have for it, and its mission. I think that, if I can get others to join me, we can make it into something great.

As for the money problem? Well, I’m taking some steps to address that. If you visit the Supply Closet, you’ll find that I have prints of some of my artwork for sale (artwork, I’ll note, that is better than my comics might suggest).

Beyond that, I’ve launched a Patreon page, where people – like you! –  can go to provide financial support. (It’s worth noting that I do feel a lot of anxiety about this step. The sheer audacity of it! I’m a fraud! I haven’t earned it! But I remind myself that it can free me to work on earning it, so…)

I’m also going to become much more active here, blogging more – and possibly bringing in guest bloggers – posting more (and not as shitty) comics.

Will my efforts pay off? I don’t know, but I’ve decided to find out.

If it comes down to it, I’ll find a job, but I’ll retain my commitment to OpenDoor Comics.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has provided support so far by liking and sharing my (shitty) comics and my posts, but while I do appreciate it, truly, I have to ask that you keep it up, and, if you can, help me in other ways.

Buy some prints! Disable your ad blocker! Or make a donation via the donate button!

But mostly, just keep believing, either in me, or in OpenDoor Comics.

I’m good with either. (Though both would be nice.)




Still Open

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

I know, it’s been a while, and not very much has seemed to happen in that time.

Not here, at any rate.

That’s not because I’ve given up on OpenDoor Comics, but the fact of the matter is that what I had hoped would happen so far, well, hasn’t.

What had I hoped? Mostly that people would find their way here through my (admittedly minimal) efforts to publicize the site and its mission, and that they would begin utilizing the platform to share their comics, traffic would build up, some revenue would start flowing in, and I could use that revenue to start pursuing active development and marketing, and begin the slow process of bringing the vision to life.

Yeah, not so much.

But that’s okay! As I said, my efforts – for a variety of reasons – to promote the site and mission have been minimal, but it’s not because I don’t believe in them, or have given up on the vision.

For one thing, I’ve always intended to take it slow, choosing to be cautious – perhaps even cowardly – and not diving in without testing the waters.

Well, the waters have been tested, and the results indicate that I need to do a lot more work before I can consider diving in. But make no mistake: I intend to dive in.

And, it turns out, sometime in the near future, I may very well be pushed.

But that’s all a consideration for another day, and I mention all of this merely to point out that I have not abandoned OpenDoor Comics or the vision behind it. The site is still here, the Door is still Open.

And that, I think, is an important point, because while not much of anything has happened here, out there, in the real world, on the other side of the Door, a lot has happened.

There is an effort underway to close doors, to put up barriers, to separate and weed out diversity, to turn away from inclusion and focus on exclusion.

As we need to keep reminding ourselves, This Is NOT Normal, and though it may seem self-serving to say, this movement, this abnormal shift, makes the vision and mission of OpenDoor Comics more vitally important than ever.

There are voices that need to be heard, stories that need to be told, and images that need to be seen.

Those voices, those stories, those images – they are welcome here.

YOU are welcome here.

As long as I have the means to hold it, the Door will always be Open.

…And You Can Do It All At OpenDoor Comics!

Just popping in to share this comic from Owlturd Comix.

View post on imgur.com

 

That whole working with an artist/writer thing?  That’s part of what OpenDoor Comics is all about!  Doing it yourself?  Do it here! Terrible at everything?  Post your stuff here anyway!

Key takeaways:

I like Owlturd Comix

You should sign up to be a Collaborator and/or create your own site for posting comics at OpenDoor Comics!

Quick Link Post

Popping in just to share a link to this post at The Mary Sue.

I love comics. I love reading them, writing them and also writing about them; comics are a big part of my life. What I don’t love is the industry that currently surrounds comics. Quite a few people are fighting to change it, and all respect to them.

Word.

Read the whole thing; a lot of it gets to the heart of why I felt the need to launch OpenDoor Comics in the first place.

 

Improvements (And Room For More)

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

While we wait for Creators to start signing up and posting comics – You are, like me, waiting for that, right? – I continue to tinker with some of the settings and features of the site in an attempt to improve the overall experience.

The latest improvement:

Enabling (and creating) Groups, which allow registered members of the site – whether they’re Creators, Collaborators, or just fans – to socialize and share information.

It’s really taking the next step in capitalizing on the social networking features enabled by the plug-in I installed for customizing the sign-up form.

To capitalize further, I created a Group called Artist Alley, which is a Group for all registered Creators to interact with each other and their adoring public, and one called Collaborators, which allows those who are interested in becoming Creators and looking for their partners-in-comics to let the world know their names and what they have to offer.

Of course, these are all very basic, and are just laying the groundwork for what is to come for OpenDoor Comics.  Even the current overall look of OpenDoor Comics, and any new sites created here, is very basic.  It is, with some minor customization, the most basic, default WordPress theme available.

But that goes back to my original ideas about Supply and Demand.  I just want to have something out there for people to begin using so that we have something to build on.  After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but once we start using the wheel, we can begin looking into ways to improve it.

Let’s take the Collaborator-matching as an example.  Right now, there are two basic paths:

  • Sign up, list your skills and interests, and check the box indicating that you’re looking to collaborate and be contacted by other registered users.  Others will be able to see that information in your profile – particularly if you join the Collaborators group – and anyone interested in working with you can then contact you.
  • Let me know that you’re interested in collaborating (via e-mail) and what your skills and interests are, and I will look through the index of potential matches and do the matchmaking legwork behind the scenes.

Neither path is particularly innovative or complex, but they do provide a starting point.  What kind of improvements will the future bring?

I can see incorporating more cogent questions into the basic Collaborator profile, or maybe some kind of personality assessment.  Or maybe setting up some Google Hangouts, or even real-life meet-ups.

But maybe not!  Maybe no one fill find that useful.  The point is, with that service, as with every other aspect of OpenDoor Comics, there’s plenty of room to improve.  It’s something that I recognize and am working on, and I hope that you recognize it as well, and view it not as obstacle, but an interesting challenge and an opportunity, because much of what we’ll see in terms of improvements to the site depends on you.

In particular, having the resources (money, mostly, which will lead to more available time) to devote to improving existing features and developing new features, and being able to entice some skilled and talented people to join the OpenDoor Comics team and help with that development, depends on people like you visiting the site (and configuring your ad-blockers to allow the minimal, non-intrusive ads to display…pretty please?), donating to the site (see the button over to the left), selling and buying items in the Supply Closet, buying items from the OpenDoor Comics Shop, and signing up and creating your own comics.

And, of course, just generally being willing to provide support and spreading the word and having faith that, in time, OpenDoor Comics will be in a position to achieve its Vision and Mission, and do its best to live up to its Values.

The Path

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

As I’ve been toiling away working on the Media Kit mentioned in my last post – which is why it’s been a while since my last post – there’s been something at the back of my mind that’s given me a bit of pause.

We all know by now (I hope) that OpenDoor Comics is about inclusion and diversity, and giving the opportunity for people who have been excluded or underrepresented in comics – on and off the page – to share their stories.

My concern, though, is that I’m not articulating that message and what it actually means as clearly as I should, and there are certain paths that I’ve seen others who, in general, share the same vision and values that drive OpenDoor Comics, wander down.

That is, I’ve seen times in which the solution to the “diversity problem” – the scare quotes indicate that I don’t see it as a problem so much as an opportunity for improvement; also it’s exclusion, not diversity that is the actual problem – is to essentially take a segregated approach.

Namely, “Let’s draw in women readers by publishing a bunch of comics for women that feature women and are made by women.”

That’s not a bad thing per se, but it’s also kind of a half-assed measure that misses the point.

It’s also not the path I want OpenDoor Comics to take.

Do I want to publish comics made by women that feature women and appeal to women?  Of course!  Comics by and about Trans* people that are for Trans* people?  Absolutely!

I want all of these things and more.

But what I don’t want is to have any sort of rigidly exclusive targeting or creative restrictions.  “Oh, that comic is for women, and I’m a man, so it’s not intended for me.”  Wrong!  That comic is intended for anyone who is interested in it.

“I’m gay, so I have to make comics about gay people for gay people.”  Nope!  Make comics about whatever you want for whomever you want.

That’s the idea behind OpenDoor Comics.  Everyone gets a voice, and everyone is part of the audience.

None of this is to say that women creators, as an example, can’t make comics about women that are primarily targeted at women if that’s what they want to do, it’s that they don’t have to do that.

If you’re a woman and you only want to read comics about women that are by women, that’s your choice to make as well, and hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for here, as it’s certainly the intent for that to be available, but it is a choice, and the door is open if you want to check out something different, with “something different” being almost anything, with every possible combination of creator and content.

Make what you want to make, read what you want to read, and recognize that it’s your decision.

As for the Media Kit…it’s coming, I promise, and once that step has been taken I’ll move on to the other hundred billion things I need to do in order to make this open door one that people are interested in walking through.

In the meantime, as always, I’m hoping that any of you reading this think that the word is worth spreading and are responding accordingly.

Get Real

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

Just popping in to quickly share a link to a goood article on a relevant topic by Laura Hudson at Wired:

It’s Time to Get Real About Racial Diversity in Comics

“The alternative and independent comics scene is leaps and bounds ahead of the big publishers, as usual, and that’s where the real action is happening,” agrees Trotman. “The diversity in perspective and storytelling in the small press scene is incredible. Right now, I honestly suggest anyone looking for comics by black creators skip the mainstream entirely and investigate webcomics. It’s as easy as browsing a Tumblr tag.”

And hopefully someday soon it will be as easy as visiting OpenDoor Comics.

An Egg Or A Chicken?

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

As I’m sure many of you are at least vaguely aware, the pop culture juggernaut that is San Diego Comic-Con took place this weekend.

You’ve no doubt seen the trending stories about movie trailers, TV pilots, and other big multimedia announcements, and, if you’re actually primarily interested in the “comic” aspect of Comic-Con, you most likely saw a lot of announcements about new creative teams, new books, and exciting new directions and storylines.

If nothing else, you may have browsed through galleries full of pictures of clever and creative cosplayers.

I’ve never managed to make it out to Comic-Con myself – I spent most of my weekend engaged in exciting activities like mowing the lawn – though one day I hope to, both as a fan and, in my role as President and Publisher of OpenDoor Comics, an industry professional.

While I’ve got the fan part down, I’m still a long way from being an industry professional, given the place that ODC currently occupies in the industry, which is to say none.

I continue to work on that part – much of my time over the weekend that didn’t involve cutting grass to an HOA-approved height was devoted to marketing strategies and the development of a media kit – but I can’t help wondering if I’m directing my efforts correctly.

So far my approach has been, to use a weird metaphor, to treat this site like an egg.  Over time, with proper attention, it will go on to become a chicken.  The idea being that I’ve essentially launched a no-frills site (laid the egg), and now I’m focusing on getting the word out that it exists in the hope that creators will begin posting their comics (sit on the egg), which will help to develop the site into something more fully-featured (become a chicken).

I can’t help but wonder, though, if instead of saying, “Hey, here’s an egg!  Come sit on it to help it hatch!” I should focus on developing the features and say, “Hey, here’s a chicken!  Come…do…chicken…things?”  …okay, I should probably start moving away from the metaphor, but I think you get the idea.

But that’s the question, particularly as I think about my Comic-Con ambitions:  Which should come first, the chicken, or the egg?

Do I keep trying to get the word out and hope that pioneering souls will find the vision and mission compelling enough to sign up to help me develop the site into the platform, the community, I want it to become, or do I focus my time, effort, and money* on development and try to build the platform first?

I’m sure there’s probably some sort of approach in the middle that I can take, and really, that’s likely to be how things turn out, but it will never be exactly in the middle, as one approach will require more focus than the other.

Regardless of which way I go, it’s unlikely the path I follow will bring me to San Diego anytime soon, but I will, no doubt, begin establish a presence at conventions that are bit closer to home, but when I go to those cons, will I be cosplaying as a chicken or an egg?

*Developing the features I want will not be cheep.  …I’m so sorry.

Let’s Keep The Momentum

Jon Maki, President and Publisher
Jon Maki, President and Publisher

While the work on getting the site comfortable in its new house continues, and I continue the efforts to develop it further and turn this house into a home, I wanted to share a link to an interesting – and hopeful – article on Comics Alliance.

For Second Year In A Row, Female Readers Are A Growing Market

One quote in particular very neatly encapsulates the reason I decided to launch OpenDoor Comics in the first place.

This is exciting news, and along with the top selling books at retailers, it points to an increasing diversification of the comics industry. A wider variety of books are selling and a wider variety of creators are succeeding at levels that just weren’t possible a few years ago. It becomes a delightful oroboros [sic] of new reader demographics supporting books that appeal to those demographics, which bring in more new readers, who support more books that appeal to them.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Let’s help keep comics growing and gaining new readers.

Sign up today to become a creator on the OpenDoor Comics platform and build your audience.